On the fourth day of class for the new semester I got a little tickle in my throat. Over the weekend my skin was all sensitive and by Monday I had a full-blown flu. Obviously badminton was out as it was all I could do to drag myself to class to throw on a movie before slumping in the back row with a pack of tissues and a cup of hot lemon water.
But I had a competition and you can’t reschedule competitions. Worried that I had taken a week off playing I managed to go to the court the day before the tournament and get some practice in. I didn’t have trouble breathing (no snot or stuffy nose) but I was coughing like crazy. I gave up after an hour and a half. I guess I looked pretty bad because even my coach encouraged me to go home to bed. My coach never encourages me to stop playing, no matter how tired or sick I might be, so that shows how much I was coughing.
You might think I didn’t have much hope for the competition, but actually I did. It was a women’s competition, the same one I did last year, and I felt pretty good, like we had a chance to win our seed and make it to the quarterfinals. Again my coach didn’t know anyone in my group (meaning no top players) and I’ve improved a lot the past year and I know I can beat most women. It didn’t bother me that I had the flu. It didn’t bother me that I haven’t seen my partner in months, much less played with her in almost a year. I didn’t bother me I hadn’t practiced womens doubles in months. I figured we could do it.
I was wrong, hahaha.
It turns out I did recognize a few women in my group, including the nice lady from The Black Dragon team. We played her first and just destroyed her. In fact, my partner, a fellow university teacher called Mrs. Bai, told me to play simply. I think she didn’t want me to embarrass them too much. (Actually, I *think* Mrs. Bai said “don’t be a hero,” but with the flu my Chinese understanding goes down so I checked with a “play simply?’ she said yeah.)
I’m not sure how I feel about my first game being an easy win. It boosts your confidence for sure (we had to win two out of 4 games to advance) but I really lose my edge because I play nice. After smashing it in their faces more than a few times, I felt a little mean, so I changed tactics and began doing more drops and gentle hits which they had more of a chance to return. It didn’t really matter for that game as we won so easily, but I think it puts me in a poor mindset for later games.
So the second game we lost (but it was a respectable loss) and then we had a longer break as the other teams played. As I was sitting Mrs. Bai asked me if I was going to stay and watch the afternoon games. I said no, and she said she would call her husband after our last game and he could give me a ride home.
“Wait a minute?!!!!” I yelled at her. “If we win our next game then WE will play this afternoon.”
“We won’t win,” she said.
“Not with that attitude,” I thought to myself. Because actually we had a very good chance at winning. Our fourth opponents were clearly much better than us. One of them had trained at some Lin Dan school when she was little. But our third opponents weren’t much better than us. We had a very good chance of winning. But in Mrs. Bai’s head the game was just for fun, was already decided and predictably we lost. I wasn’t upset with losing, I had the flu after all and all I wanted was to go home and sleep, but I was more upset at the attitude. I’m a competitive player, I play to win, and this was a lower level competition with no professional players so I should have a good chance of winning. Oh well….
I took the next two days off from badminton but this flu is lingering and I can’t wait any longer. I’m back on the court because I need more court time. I was talking with my coach and I mentioned that one of the guys I play with has really improved. My coach scoffed.
“He hasn’t improved. You’ve gotten worse, so he seems like he’s improved.”
So I can;t waste my time sitting at home. Gotta get back out there and improve.